Feeds

The Google Review, explained...

Immense wealth awaits. Email Ian Hargreaves with bank details, statute book

Top three mobile application threats

Now we know why what was widely called the "Google Review" into intellectual property came to the conclusions it did. And we have it from the horse's mouth: not Google, but Professor Ian Hargreaves and his team at the IPO, who "guided" him.

If you recall, a year ago the Prime Minister David Cameron revealed that the Google founders that they could never have founded Google in the UK, because of its copyright law. Even Google could never substantiate the quote, or provide a citation. Rather than getting a public inquiry, and shaming, of a foreign corporation for misleading our PM so badly – Google got the government to explore how the law could be altered... to benefit companies like Google.

So the review began with a mistake, and its guiding philosophical idea was a naive, simplified, and fantastical version of the world. This set the tone for what followed.

Hargreaves came across as wry and likeable, as he always does, but his words revealed the bien pensant view of the internet, its potential, and its commercial challenges.

Ian Hargreaves

"Politicians are afraid to address [copyright] because of fear of damaging the entirely legitimate and desirable wishes of musicians and other creators to have a fair level of protection, so they can make a return on their own work. I do disagree how this machinery has spread, and become an undesirable regulatory restraint on the internet [our emphasis] and the internet's effects on the economy.

He continued:

"That is a very, very big risk for an advanced knowledge economy like the UK to run. In my view we can't afford to run it. It's urgent; the government has to take the action I have recommended it take".

The sky was falling, he'd felt a piece of it land on his head. And he hammered home this urgency in his conclusion, in case you missed it:

"The digital revolution is not one-third complete, based on the penetration of the internet around the world. If we don't 'Get with the Pace', we will pay a significant economic price."

There are several flaws to this approach.

The graph below illustrates the recent commercial fortunes of two technology companies. One of these has negotiated with incumbents and innovated to establish platforms that create new markets. It didn't lobby for the rules to be changed. It worked with what rules there were. It created an explosion of economic value.

Fortune favours the brave: not the lobbyists

The other company, by contrast, lobbies intensively for the rules to change (one of the recipients of its cash shared the stage with Hargreaves), so its costs can be lowered. It's why we were here. The first is Apple, and the second is Google.

Now, what this shows that there is more than one approach to dealing with incumbents and the legal and regulatory status quo. The empirical data here clearly tells us that platform creation within the rules is not only possible, but actually far more lucrative than the slightly sleazy backroom business of lobbying for the rules to be changed. It also demolishes the "pace" argument – which is an appeal to the Precautionary Principle: that if we don't do something drastic very soon, we'll face a far greater cost. (See Iraq, WMDs). By creating markets for digital content, Apple ran counter to the perceived wisdom of internet gurus that people would never pay for it. Newspapers have followed suit with paywalls, with some success. Apple killed Free.

Hargreaves' view of internet growth is based on one particular view of the world – and it happens to be one one that isn't very good at producing growth. Hargreaves is evidently a decent and intelligent man, he is just basing his judgments on a view of the world that is Utopian, and feels very dated. This leads to the other problem, which is that his argument is based on exceptionalism, and makes demands of groups that it shouldn't.

Viewed sociologically, the argument is that one group needs to become weaker, just so another can prosper. History shows that time and again, technological innovation allows many parties to prosper – no technology content market has yet done otherwise, or removed rights. If I was an internet guru, I would call this the Orlowski Principle, and Tweet it like mad. But it's actually the way good policy is conducted since the Enlightenment.

Yet for some reason, Google prefers to seek to change the rules rather than create new markets. Your speculation on why they adopt this approach might be is as good as mine.

This Google isn't working

Google isn't very good at consumer products, as the late Steve Jobs told Larry Page, but it should be able to do large scale platforms. Maybe it isn't very good at doing the negotiations – with finance and creative industries – needed to push this through. Maybe all of its best ideas are invisible. Maybe it doesn't do ideas. Maybe it's innately fearful and conservative – as large record companies were for years, clinging to the CD, and failing to create digital markets or physical replacements.

Google is still a one-club golfer, and that club, its advertising brokerage, doesn't really begin to unlock the potential value – as Apple's content store has shown. Whatever the reason(s) may be, academics such as Hargreaves seem not to have really taken these developments on board: they appear only too keen to endorse Google's view as the one true way of achieving growth.

For Hargreaves, the internet creates such a unique, singular moment of historical anxiety, we can suspend traditional ideas of fairness. It shouldn't make us deaf, though.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Next page: The rest

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.